Carlisle v. Normand, et al
ORDER AND REASONS: Plaintiffs' official capacity suits against Drug Court Administrator Kristen Becnel, Program Supervisor Tracy Mussal, Probation Coordinator Kevin Theriot, and Director of counseling Joe McNair are DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo.(ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
TAYLOR CARLISLE, ET AL.
NEWELL NORMAND, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
The Court sua sponte raised the issue of its jurisdiction to entertain
Plaintiff’s official capacity claims against Defendants Kristen Becnel, Tracey
Mussal, Kevin Theriot, and Joe McNair. Having received and considered
briefing on the subject, the Court finds that these claims must be
Plaintiffs challenge the manner in which the Jefferson Parish Drug
Court is conducted.
The allegations of Plaintiffs’ Complaints have been
detailed at length in the Court’s earlier order and Reasons and need not be
repeated here.1 In that Order, however, the Court directed the parties to file
briefs addressing whether this Court has jurisdiction to entertain official
capacity claims against Drug Court Administrator Kristen Becnel, Program
Supervisor Tracy Mussal, Probation Coordinator Kevin Theriot, and Director
of counseling Joe McNair. For the following reasons, the official capacity
claims are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
In its earlier order, the Court noted that Plaintiffs appeared to seek relief
against Becnel, Mussal, Theriot, and McNair in their official capacities. The
Court sua sponte raised the issue of its jurisdiction to entertain such claims.
These suits are directed at these individuals based on their role within the
Drug Court system. Official capacity claims merely represent an alternative
means of pleading a cause of action against the entity of which the individual
is a member—here, the Jefferson Parish Drug Court.2
arguments to the contrary, it is apparent from the statute authorizing the Drug
Court that it exists under the auspices of the 24th Judicial District Court for
the Parish of Jefferson. These official capacity claims, therefore, are actually
suits against the 24th Judicial District Court itself. Any such suit is precluded
by the immunity provisions of the Eleventh Amendment. Indeed, “Courts in
this and other circuits routinely hold that state courts are immune from suit
under the Eleventh Amendment.”3
Burge v. Par. of St. Tammany, 187 F.3d 452, 466 (5th Cir. 1999) (“Official capacity
suits generally represent another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an
officer is an agent.”).
3 Cain v. City of New Orleans, No. CV 15-4479, 2016 WL 2742374, at *1 (E.D. La.
May 11, 2016) (“See, e.g., Jefferson v. La. State Supreme Court, 46 Fed. Appx. 732, *1 (5th
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ official capacity suits against Drug
Court Administrator Kristen Becnel, Program Supervisor Tracy Mussal,
Probation Coordinator Kevin Theriot, and Director of counseling Joe McNair
are DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 1th day of August, 2017.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cir. 2002) (“The Eleventh Amendment clearly bars [plaintiff’s] § 1983 claims against the
Louisiana Supreme Court, which is a branch of Louisiana’s state government.”); Bourgeois
v. Par. of Jefferson, 20 F.3d 465, *1 (5th Cir. 1994) (holding that the Orleans Parish Civil
District Court is “an agency of the state” entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity);
Summers v. Louisiana, No. 13-4573, 2013 WL 3818560, at *4 (E.D. La. July 22, 2013)
(holding that an official capacity claim against a state court judge “would in reality be a
claim against the state itself, and...would be barred by the Eleventh Amendment”);
Wilkerson v. 17th Judicial Dist. Court, No. 08-1196, 2009 WL 249737, at *4 (E.D. La. Jan.
30, 2009) (“It is clear that the Eleventh Amendment bars § 1983 claims against a state
court.”); Rackley v. Louisiana, No. 07-504, 2007 WL 1792524, at *3 (E.D. La. June 21, 2007)
(“[T]he Eleventh Amendment likewise bars § 1983 claims against a state court.”); see
generally Mumford v. Basinski, 105 F.3d 264, 267 (6th Cir. 1997) (noting that state courts
are not “persons” under section 1983 and are otherwise immune from suit as an arm of the
state government); Harris v. Champion, 51 F.3d 901, 905-06 (10th Cir. 1995) (holding that
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is immune from suit under Eleventh Amendment as
“a governmental entity that is an arm of the state”); Landers Seed Co., Inc. v. Champaign
Nat’l Bank, 15 F.3d 729, 731-32 (7th Cir. 1994) (“The Eleventh Amendment, however, bars
federal suits against state courts and other branches of state government[.]”); Clark v.
Clark, 984 F.2d 272, 273 (8th Cir. 1993) (“Courts are not persons within the meaning of 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and, if they were, the action would be barred by the Eleventh Amendment
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?